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HGTV: What is Midcentury Modern Architecture, Really?

December 29, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Mid-century Modern Architecture?

HGTV's Dinah Eng writes about the style HERE

(All photos on this post are from Martie Lieberman : Modern Sarasota)

 

My favorite bit in Dinah's article for HGTV is her interview with Sian Winship, a great friend of Sarasota's mid-century modern architecture. I met Sian and John Berley when they organized a ground-breaking tour and study program in 1999 called On Parallel Lines: The Sarasota School of Architecture and the Case Study House Program for SAH/SCC. Their work helped our own tour and symposium on Sarasota's mid-century architecture in 2001, An American Legacy: The Sarasota School of Architecture by the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota.  The Sarasota Architectural Foundation was started by volunteers who produced the Fine Arts Society's program. And the Center For Architecture Sarasota grew out of the Sarasota Architectural Foundation, years later. It's all connected, and to me, goes back to Sian and John. THANK YOU everyone, for your involvement in making these great things come to life for Sarasota.    -Martie Lieberman : Modern Sarasota

 

Here are a few quotes by Sian Winship - from Dinah Eng's HGTV article.

 

“The birth of midcentury modern was after the war,” says Sian Winship, president of the Southern California Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians. “The houses had open floor plans and giant sliding-glass doors, which encouraged people to go outside and be healthy. In a traditional home, the window height is 4 to 5 feet, and you can’t see out as a child. With these walls of glass, children became engaged and open-minded because the environment stimulated the senses in a different way.”

 

She notes that architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who trained midcentury modern architects like Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler, was also a huge influence.

 

“It’s nice to see midcentury modernism being appreciated now,” she adds, “as we’re entering a period where houses from the 1960s are becoming eligible to be on the National Register of Historic Places.”

 

“The biggest enemy of a modern house is deferred maintenance,” Winship says. “You have to keep up with it. The wood has to be clear-coated, painted or oiled. It will expand and contract from heat, and you get problems from that.”

 

 

Key Elements of Mid-Century Modern Architecture, from HGTV: What is Midcentury Modern Architecture, Really?
Flat planes. The geometric lines of the house are regular and rigorous. Flat roofs are common, though modern ranch-style houses had gable roofs.
Large windows. Sliding-glass doors and other expansive panes of glass allow light to enter rooms from multiple angles.
Changes in elevation. Small steps going up and down between rooms creates split-level spaces. A midcentury modern might have partial walls, or cabinets of varying heights to create different depths in the space.
Integration with nature. Rooms have multiple outdoor views, or multiple access points, encouraging an appreciation of healthy living.

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